In a small town it’s easy to feel like a king. You feel like you can take on the world. It’s when you leave it behind that you feel weak. You feel like a rat in a maze. You wait for the world to come crashing down on you. You feel the need to retreat and wish to hide in the place you’ve known all your life. When you return, maybe you feel like you hate this place, but you’re the king. You can’t leave this behind. This place blesses you with a god-like power. Who could ignore such a gift?
If you’re born in a small-town, you’re untouchable. Rest assured, it’s not unbreakable. It’s ‘untouchable’. No one can mess with you, except for the people you’ve known all your life. It’s this ‘us against the world’ mentality that makes people in a small town so close. Despite the torment we might subject on one another, no one enters this place and messes with one of our own.
Along the same thought, no one tells us how to live. We’re left alone, because outsiders have no right to tell us how to handle our issues. Even so, it’s not really worth it for them to get involved. It would just create a greater mess. Imagine you see a busted bee hive laying on the ground, with its insides torn out for the world to see. Your first thought is never to fix it. You think in preservation: stay away! No matter what, you keep your distance. Those bees are learning how to function in a broken world. This is all they know. They’ve grown accustomed to the new ins and outs of their hive and no one in the world can tell them something different.
Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say you drop your keys in the middle of that mess. Do you dare take back your keys? If you do, run like hell.
You don’t stick your hand into a bee hive, because we have something so special that we fight for… everything we’ve ever known. We know nothing beyond this ancestral wisdom, so to us, it means that much more. If the world comes crashing down on us, it would be easy enough to erase our existence, but none of that matters. The point is, we have no other alternative but to fight. I call it ‘Fallujah of Upstate New York’, although I’ve never been to Fallujah. It just makes me think of an ancient, patriarchal society. I think of one old man kept in charge by culture and tradition, who the others gather around, sworn to protect. They protect him, because that’s all they know. They gather by the fire at night, circling around him, as he tells stories of times past, legends of their people, solidifying their faith and bondage. They’re bound to each other. It’s something so pure it has to be diluted. It takes us back to the time when men were wolves and we hunted in packs. The more things change the more they stay the same.
One of the unmeasured consequences of the fundamentalism that’s spread throughout the Middle East is the desecration and imminent destruction of ancient cultures. The patriarchy is under attack. ISIS wiped out Palmyra. The old ways are gone. There’s no more reflecting on the days of old. The families have been destroyed; the women, wives and daughters have been sold into sexual servitude, while the men are killed. Humanity is more atavistic than our ‘high-culture’ and philosophies make us appear. Hernando Cortes erased the Aztecs with such precision historians didn’t find a trace of their culture for centuries.
It’s like if a new male lion walks onto the Sahara. If he wins, he has to kill the fathers, uncles, sons. He has to impregnate the women. He has to piss everywhere and leave his deplorable stink.
I can’t compare my city to a beehive, although it is fitting. I also can’t justifiably compare it to Fallujah, since I’ve never been. By simple juxtaposition, I picture some ancestral patriarchy, with the ‘pack-leader’ or eldest male at the head of the tribe. He governs and teaches and everyone obeys. Everyone has a role in this system, although beneath him; they function and belong and nothing changes. Nothing ever changes. It’s a god-like power. Maybe there’s not a man in the world that deserves it. We’re confined to an area the equivalent of a sardine can. We keep it to ourselves, because it’s all we have. No doubt, one of the neighboring cities will invade, not unlike ISIS in Palmyra, and then crush us like bugs. We haven’t the numbers to defeat them. It’s only a matter of time before this great protective bubble around us pops. ISIS is coming from Upstate New York and they want to erase our culture.